Theosophical University Press Online Edition
Letter No. 53
Strictly private and confidential
My patient — friend: — Yesterday, I had a short note posted to you, and it accompanied a long letter to Hume — I had it registered somewhere in Central P. by a happy, free friend; to-day, it is a long letter to yourself, and it is intended to be accompanied by a tolling of jeremiades, a doleful story of a discomfiture, which may, or may not make you laugh as it does that bulky brother of mine — but which makes me feel like the poet: who could not sleep aright,
"For his soul kept up too much light
Under his eyelids for the night."
I hear you uttering under breath: "Now what in the world does he mean!" Patience, my best Anglo-Indian friend, patience; and when you have heard of the disreputable conduct of my wicked, more than ever laughing Brother, you will plainly see, why, I come to regret, that instead of tasting in Europe, of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil — I have not remained in Asia, in all the sancta simplicitas of ignorance of your ways and manners for then — I would be now grinning too!
I wonder what you will say when you will have learned the dreadful secret! I long to know it, to be delivered of a nightmare. Were you to meet me now, for the first time, in the shadowy alleys of your Simla, and demanded of me the whole truth, you would hear me tell it to you, most unfavourably for myself. My answer to you, would remind the world — if you were cruel enough to repeat it — of the famous answer given by Warren Hastings to "dog Jennings" on his first meeting with the exgovernor after his return from India! "My dear Hastings" — asked Jennings — "is it possible you are the great rascal Burke says, and the whole world is inclined to believe?" — "I can assure you, Jennings," was the sad and mild reply, "that though sometimes obliged to appear rascal for the Company, I was never one for myself." I am the W.H. for the sins of the Brotherhood. But to facts.
Of course you know — the "O.L." told you I think — that when we take candidates for chelas, they take the vow of secrecy and silence respecting every order they may receive. One has to prove himself fit for chelaship, before he can find out whether he is fit for adeptship. Fern is under such a probation; and a nice mess they have prepared for me between them two! As you already know from my letter to Hume, he did not interest me, I knew nothing of him, beyond his remarkable faculties, his powers for clairaudience and clairvoyance, and his still more remarkable tenacity of purpose, strong will, and other etcs. A loose, immoral character for years, — a tavern Pericles with a sweet smile for every street Aspasia, he had entirely and suddenly reformed after joining the Theosoph: Society, and "M." took him seriously in hand. It is no business of mine to tell even yourself, how much of his visions is truth and how much hallucination, or even perchance — fiction. That he bamboozled our friend Hume considerably, must be so, since Mr. Hume tells me the most marvellous yarns of him. But the worst of all this business is, the following. He bamboozled him so well, indeed, that whereas H. did not believe one word when Fern was speaking the truth, nearly every lie uttered by F. was accepted by our respected Prest. of the Eclectic — as gospel truth.
Now you will readily understand, that it is impossible for me to try and set him (H) right, since F. is M.'s chela, and that I have no right whatever — either legal, or social, according to our code — to interfere between the two. Of the several grievances, however, it is the smallest. Another of our customs, when corresponding with the outside world, is to entrust a chela with the task of delivering the letter or any other message; and if not absolutely necessary — to never give it a thought. Very often our very letters — unless something very important and secret — are written in our handwritings by our chelas. Thus, last year, some of my letters to you were precipitated, and when sweet and easy precipitation was stopped — well I had but to compose my mind, assume an easy position, and — think, and my faithful "Disinherited" had but to copy my thoughts, making only occasionally a blunder. Ah, my friend, I had an easy life of it unto the very day when the Eclectic sprung into its checkered existence. . . . Anyhow, this year, for reasons we need not mention, I have to do my own work — the whole of it, and I have a hard time of it sometimes, and get impatient over it. As Jean Paul Richter says somewhere, the most painful part of our bodily pain is that which is bodiless or immaterial, namely our impatience, and the delusion that it will last for ever. . . . Having one day permitted myself to act as though I were labouring under such a delusion, in the innocence of my unsophisticated soul, I trusted the sacredness of my correspondence into the hands of that alter ego of mine, the wicked and "imperious" chap, your "Illustrious," who took undue advantage of my confidence in him and — placed me in the position I am now in! The wretch laughs since yesterday, and to confess the truth I feel inclined to do the same. But as an Englishman, I am afraid you will be terror-struck at the enormity of his crime. You know, that notwithstanding his faults Mr. Hume is absolutely necessary, so far, to the T.S. I grow sometimes very irritated at his petty feelings and spirit of vindictiveness; yet withal, I have to put up with his weaknesses, which lead him at one moment to vex himself that it is not yet — and at another that it is already mid-day. But our "Illustrious" is not precisely of that opinion. Mr. Hume's pride and self-opinion — he argues — wish as our saying goes — that all mankind had only two bent knees, to make puja to him; and he M. is not going to humour him. He will do nothing, of course, to harm or even to vex him purposely; on the contrary, he means to always protect him as he has done until now; but — he will not lift his little finger to disabuse him.
The substance and pith of his argument are summed up in the following:
"Hume laughed and chuckled at real, genuine phenomena (the production of which have brought us well nigh into the Chohan's disgrace) — only and solely because the manifestations were not sketched by himself, nor were they produced in his honour or for his sole benefit. And now let him feel happy and proud over mysterious manifestations of his own making and creation. Let him taunt Sinnett in the depths of his own proud heart, and even by throwing out hints to others — that even he, Sinnett, was hardly so favoured. No one has ever attempted a deliberate deception, nor would anyone be permitted to attempt anything of the sort. Everything was made to follow its natural, ordinary course. Fern is in the hands of two clever — 'dwellers of the threshold' as Bulwer would call them — two dugpas kept by us to do our scavengers' work, and to draw out the latent vices — if there be any — from the candidates; and Fern has shown himself on the whole, far better and more moral than he was supposed to be. Fern has done but what he was ordered to do; and he holds his tongue because it is his first duty. As to his posing with Hume, and attitudinizing before himself and others as a seer, since he has brought himself to believe it, and that it is but certain details that can be really called a fiction, or to put it less mildly fibs — there is no real harm done but to himself. Hume's jealousy and pride will ever be in the way, to prevent him swallowing truth as much as ornamental fiction; and Sinnett is shrewd enough to sift very easily Fern's realities and dreams. . . . Why then, should I, or you or any one else" concludes M. — "offer advice to one who is sure not to accept it, or, which will be still worse, in case he learns for a certainty that he has been permitted to make a fool of himself — is still more sure to become an irreconcilable enemy to the Society, the Cause, the much suffering Founders and all. Let him, then, strictly alone. . . . He will not be thankful for undeceiving him. On the contrary. He will forget that no one is to be blamed but himself; that no one had ever whispered him one word that could have led him into his extra delusions; but will turn more fiercely than ever on those chaps — the adepts and he will call them publicly impostors, jesuits and pretenders. You (I) gave him one genuine pucka phenomenon — and that ought to satisfy him as to the possibility of everything else."
Such is M.'s reasoning; and were I not indirectly mixed in the quiproquo — it would be also mine. But now, owing to the plants of that little double-dealing monkey — Fern, I am compelled to disturb you for a friendly advice, since our ways are not your ways — and vice versa.
But now see what happened. Hume has lately received a good many letters from me; and I hope you will kindly follow with me the fate and various fortunes of three of them, ever since he began to receive them in a direct way. Try also, to well understand the situation and to thus realize my position. Since we had three chelas at Simla, — two regular ones and one an irregular one — the candidate Fern, I conceived the unfortunate idea of saving power, of economizing, as though I had a "Savings bank." To tell truth, I sought to separate as much as it was possible under the circumstances, the suspected "Headquarters" from every phenomenon produced at Simla; hence from the correspondence that passed between Mr. Hume and myself. Unless H.P.B., Damodar, and Deb — were entirely disconnected, there was no saying what might, or might not, happen. The first letter — the one found in the conservatory I gave to M. to have it left at Mr. H.'s house by one of the two regular chelas. He gave it to Subba Row — for he had to see him on that day; S.R. passed it in the ordinary way (posted it) to Fern, with instructions to either leave it at Mr. Hume's house, or to send it to him through post, in case he were afraid that Mr. H. should ask him — since Fern could not, had not the right to answer him and thus would be led to telling an untruth. Several times D. Kh. had tried to penetrate into Rothney Castle, but suffered each time so acutely, that I told him to give it up. (He is preparing for initiation and might easily fail as a consequence). Well, Fern did not post it but sent a friend — his dugpa to leave it at the house and the latter placed it in the conservatory about 2 a.m. This was half of a phenomenon but H. took it for an entire thing, and got very mad when M. refused as he thought to take up his answer in the same way. Then I wrote to console him, and told him as plainly as I could say, without breaking M.'s confidence in relation to Fern that D.K. could do nothing for him, at present, and that it was one of Morya's chelas that had placed the letter there, etc., etc. I believe the hint was quite broad enough and no deception practiced? The second letter, I think, was thrown on his table by Dj. Khool (the real spelling of whose name is Gjual, but not so phonetically) and, as it was done by himself it was a pucka orthodox phenomenon and Hume has no need to complain. Several were sent to him in various ways — and he may be sure of one thing: however ordinary the means by which the letters reached him, they could not be but phenomenal in reaching India from Tibet. But this does not seem to be taken into any consideration by him. And now we come to the really bad part of it, a part for which I blame entirely M. — for permitting it and exonerate Fern, who could not help it. Of course you understand that I write you this in strict confidence, relying upon your honour that whatever happens you will not betray Fern. Indeed (and I have looked most attentively into the thing) the boy was led to become guilty of a deliberate jesuitical deception rather through Hume's constant insults, suspicious attitude and deliberate slights at meals, and during the hours of work, than from any motives in consequence of his loose notions of morals. Then M.'s letters (the production of the amiable dug-pa, in reality ex-dugpa, whose past sins will never permit him to fully atone for his misdeeds) distinctly say: — "do, either so and so, or in such a way"; they tempt him, and lead him to imagine that in doing no injury to any human being and when the motive is good every action becomes legal!! I was thus tempted in my youth, and had nearly succumbed twice to the temptation, but was saved by my uncle from falling into the monstrous snare; and so was the Illustrious — who is a pucka orthodox Occultist and holds religiously to the old traditions and methods; and so would be any one of you had I consented to accept you for chelas. But as I was aware from the first, of what you have confessed to, in a letter to H.P.B., namely that there was something supremely revolting to the better class of European minds in that idea of being tested, of being under probation — I therefore had always avoided the acceptance of Mr. Hume's often expressed offer to become a chela. This may, perhaps, give you the key to the whole situation. However this is what happened. Fern had received a letter of mine through a chela, with the injunction of causing it to reach its destination immediately. They were going to take breakfast, and there was no time to lose. Fern had thrown the letter on a table and ought to have left it there, since there would have been no occasion for him then, to lie. But he was vexed with H., and he devised another dodge. He placed the letter in the folds of Mr. H.'s napkin, who at breakfast took it up and accidentally shook out the letter on to the floor; it appears, to the terrible fright of "Moggy" and the contented surprise of Hume. But, his old suspicion returning to him, (a suspicion he had always harboured since I wrote to him that my first letter was brought into the conservatory by one of M.'s chelas, and that my chela could do little, though he had visited invisibly every part of the house before) — Hume looks at Fern full and asks him — whether it was he who had placed it there. Now I have the entire picture before me of F.'s brain at that moment. There's the rapid flash in it — "this saves me. . . for I can swear I never put it there" (meaning the spot on the floor — where it had fallen) — No — he boldly answers. — "I have never put it THERE" — he adds mentally. Then a vision of M. and a feeling of intense satisfaction and relief for not having been guilty of a direct lie. Confused pictures of some Jesuits he had known, — of his little child — a disconnected thought of his room and beams in Mr. H.'s garden, etc. — not a thought of self-deception! Truly then, our friend was taken in but once, but I would pay any price could I but recall the event and replace my letter with somebody else's message. But you see how I am situated. M. tells me he gives me carte blanche to tell anything I like to you, he will not have me say a word to Hume; nor would he ever forgive you — he says, were you to interfere between the punishment of Hume's pride, and — fate. Fern is not really to be blamed, for thinking that so long as the result is accomplished the details are of no account, since he was brought at such a school, and that he really has the welfare of the Cause at heart, whereas, with Hume — it is really bona fide Selfishness, egotism — the chief and only motive power. "Egotistic philanthropist" is a word which paints his portrait at full length.
Now for Col. Chesney. Since he really and sincerely was kind enough, it appears, to discern something in the outlines of your poor, humble friend's face; an impression drawn, most probably, from the depths of his imagination rather than from any real presence of such an expression as you say, in Dj. Khool's or M.'s production — the former felt quite proud and begged my permission to precipitate another such likeness, for Col. Chesney. Of course, the permission was granted, though I laughed at the idea, and M. told D.K. that the Col. would also laugh at what he will suspect as my conceit. But D.K. would try and then went and begged permission to present it himself to Col. Chesney; a permission which was, as a matter of course, refused by the Chohan and he himself reprimanded. But the picture was ready three minutes after I had consented to it, and D.K. seemed enormously proud of it. He says — and he is right, I think, that this likeness is the best of the three. Well, it went the usual way, via Djual Khool, Deb and Fern — the H.P.B. and Damodar being both at Poona at that time. M. was training and testing Fern for a phenomenon — of course a genuine one — so that a pucka manifestation could be produced in Col. Chesney's house by Fern; but, while Fern swore he needed but three months' preparation, M. knew he would never be ready for this season — nor do I think he will be ready next year. Anyhow, he entrusted the new picture to Fern, telling him again to better send it by post, for were the Colonel to ever learn that Fern was concerned in it, he would disbelieve even in its precipitated production. But D.K. wanted it delivered immediately, and while the Col. as he said — "had Master hot in his head still" — and Fern, the conceited young fool, answers — "No; before I do anything in connection with the 'packet' I must study him (Col. Chesney) more fully (!!) I want, this time, to obtain the highest possible results at the first onset. From what I have seen of the author of the 'Battle of Dorkin' I have not been able to satisfy myself about him. . . . Father told me to be his 'eyes' and 'ears' — he not having always the time — I must find out the character we have to deal with"!!
In the interval, I, fearing that Master Fern may, perhaps, place the portrait in the folds of Col. Chesney's "napkin," and produce some "spiritual manifestation with his foot" — I wrote to you from Poona through Damodar, giving you a very broad hint I believe, which, of course, you did not understand but will now. Meanwhile, yester morning D.K. came and told me that Fern still had his picture and that he feared that some trick had or would be played. Then I immediately aroused my too indifferent Brother from his apathy. I showed to him how dangerous was the situation left in the unscrupulous hands of a boy, whose sense of morality was still more blunted, by the "probation" tests and deceit which he regarded nigh as legal and permissible and — aroused him finally into action. A telegram was sent to Fern in M.'s own handwriting, this time, from the Central Provinces — (Bussawla, I believe — where lives a chela) ordering Fern to send on immediately the packet he had for the Colonel to his address by post — and Fern, as I see received it, yesterday, in the forenoon, by our time (Tuesday, 22). And thus when you hear of it, you will know the whole truth.
I have strictly forbidden my letters or anything connected with my business to ever be given to Fern. Thus Mr. H. and yourself or anyone else at Simla may take my word of honour that Fern will have nothing more to do with my business. But, my dearest friend, you must promise me faithfully, and for my sake, never to breathe one word of what I told you to anyone — least of all to Hume or Fern; unless Fern forces you by his fibs to stop him, in which case you may use what you think proper of it, to force him to shut up, yet, without ever allowing him to know how, and from whom you have learnt it. Apart from this, use of the knowledge, at your discretion. Read my letter, registered and sent to your name from Bussawla yesterday — or rather my letter to Hume carefully and think well over before sending it to him; for this letter may provoke him to a fit of madness and hurt pride and make him quit the Society at once. Better keep it, as means for future emergency to prove to him that at least, I, am one, who will not permit even my enemies to be won over by unfair means. At least, I so regard the means that Mr. Fern seems but too ready to use. But above all, good and faithful friend, do not allow your self to misconceive the real position of our Great Brotherhood. Dark and tortuous as may seem to your Western mind the paths trodden, and the ways by which our candidates are brought to the great Light — you will be the first to approve of them when you know all. Do not judge on appearances — for you may thereby do a great wrong, and lose your own personal chances to learn more. Only be vigilant and — watch. If Mr. Hume but consents to wait he will have more, and far more extraordinary phenomena to silence the critics than he hitherto had. Exercise your influence with him. Remember in November comes the great crisis, and September will be full of dangers. Save at least our personal relations from the great wreck. Fern is the queerest psychological subject I have ever met. The pearl is inside, and truly profoundly hidden by the unattractive oyster-shell. We cannot break it at once; nor can we afford to lose such subjects. While protecting yourself — protect him from Hume. Generally I never trust a woman, any more than I would an echo; both are of the female gender because the goddess Echo like woman — will always have the last word. But with your lady it is otherwise, and I firmly believe that you can trust her with the above — if you think proper. But beware of poor Mrs. Gordon. An excellent lady but would talk Death herself to death. And now I have done.
Yours ever faithfully,
Please do not regard it as a compliment — but believe me when I say that your two Letters and especially "The Evolution of Man" is simply SUPERB. Do not fear any contradictions or inconsistencies.
I say again — make notes of them and send them to me and you will see.
I pray you, kind sir, to lock the foolish letter sent on yesterday to Hume-Sahib into your trunk and leave it there to roost until in demand. I tell you it will create mischief and no better. K.H. is too sensitive by far — he is becoming in your Western Society a regular Miss.
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